The year of (many) marriages

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Last fall, when New York Times Marriage Bureau Editor Anthony Rotunno learned that his cousin was getting married, he was surprised to find out the ceremony would take place on a Monday night.

He couldn’t imagine anyone intentionally wanting to get married on a weeknight, which made him wonder if that was right. this hard to get a place. Around the same time, Mr. Rotunno and Charanna Alexander, the editor of Weddings, began seeing a slew of statistics from trade groups such as the Wedding Report. Reports predicted the same thing: After two years of delays and cancellations, 2022 would be the biggest year for the wedding industry since 1984; one report predicted that approximately 2.5 million nuptials would take place in the United States in 2022.

The number was optimistic, yes, but also intimidating: how would individual marriages go? Already, editors could see that the sheer volume of events was forcing couples to get creative as they competed for venues, vendors and even their guests’ time. Sometimes that meant throwing a party on a Monday.

To document the year’s anticipated matrimania, Mr Rotunno and Ms Alexander decided to create a recurring series called “Year of Marriage”, which began last month. The column tells what the wedding industry looks like in 2022 – and what that means for those getting married.

“We see this moment as an opportunity to take a look at how marriages have changed more generally,” Mr. Rotunno said.

The series covers the marriage boom from three angles: there are trending articles reported on topics such as pet marriages and (welcomed) crashers, “how to” service articles to guide couples and guests throughout this unusual year, and features that examine how the larger institution of marriage has evolved during the pandemic. Editors take note of trends and disruptions in the industry and use these observations to shape stories.

For example, most couples have accepted that their weddings don’t resemble the pre-pandemic extravaganzas of yore, aka 2019. “The reality is that the ‘perfect’ wedding in 2019 was easier to achieve,” Rotunno said. “At this point, striving for perfection will only delay the marriage process.” After two years of changing plans, some couples are even dealing with “postponement fatigue” — a topic a recent article explores.

Not to mention that the entire wedding industry faces a classic imbalance of supply and demand. There are too many weddings and not enough venues. Or sellers. Or flowers. “It creates this additional stress on the industry at a time when the sheer number of weddings would probably be enough of a challenge,” Rotunno said. When Tammy La Gorce, a freelance writer, reported her article “It’s a Boom Year for the Newlyweds,” a wedding planner recounted a booking nightmare. “Couples will call and they’ll have a $10,000 deposit on a venue,” Ms. La Gorce said. “And the owner of the hall will say, ‘Who are you again? “”

Couples might not even be able to celebrate with all of their friends and family. The backlog of weddings has created a glut of invitations for some revelers. A reporter interviewed a woman who said she received 15 wedding invitations for 2022. “She can only go to 10,” Mr Rotunno said. “It’s like, only ten?” So one article in the series offered advice on how couples can reduce the pressure on guests. To meet minimum numbers and accommodate last-minute no-shows, some couples actively encourage strangers to plan their weddings, according to an upcoming feature.

Another feature of the series explored the “sequel event,” which has become a mainstay in the wedding industry. “We’ve seen countless couples hold small legal ceremonies followed by larger receptions weeks, months or years later,” Rotunno said. “It’s one of the most tangible changes that has come from this period and will continue to appear in 2022.”

The biggest trend might be one that can’t be captured in data or seen in a ceremony. Since the start of the pandemic, said Anya Strzemien, the Styles editor who oversees relationship coverage, some couples seem to spend more time thinking about “why they’re doing this.” Ms. Strzemien has noticed more thought and flexibility in wedding planning, stemming from a deeper understanding of commitment.

“Relationships have been put to a real stress test over the past two years,” she said. The new series doesn’t just share the latest trends, but explores how the pandemic has changed what a marriage — what a commitment — really means.

As more weddings fill calendars across the country, Times reporters will continue to cover any emerging micro-trends — and attend their fair share of weekday weddings themselves.

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